Medford Police supports the role of school resource officers after Portland protests
Portland students walked out of class Wednesday to protest school resource officers, or SROs, to ask city commissioners to cut back on SROs in schools. Students from a half-dozen Portland Public Schools planned to walk out of class at 9 a.m. to make their voices heard.
Within the Medford School District, there are at total of five school resource officers. Medford Police said they take on the roles of a teacher and counselor, in addition to their responsibilities as being a law enforcement officer.
Officer Mark Patterson has been the SRO for North Medford High School for years. Patterson said his presence on campus fosters community between students and local law enforcement.
"This is where they have more positive contact with law enforcement on a regular basis," Patterson said. "I mean they're more likely to come and talk to us if there's something bad going on outside of school or if somebody is planning something bad at school. They're more likely to come and talk to us because they have that relationship with us."
The funding for SROs are split between Medford School District and Medford Police. Patterson said the police department funds three SROs, while the school district funds the fourth SRO. He added both the district and the police department put up half the funding for the fifth officer.
Patterson said North Medford High School has two mental health counselors available to students. He said he works with them both closely to improve student's health and safety in all measures.
"The mental health counseling is there," Patterson said. "We’re there for safety in case something bad happens on campus like a school shooting, but were also trained in being mentors and counselors and talking to people."
Patterson said school resource officers are present on campus every day schools are in session. The fifth SRO in the district was added to Central Medford High School last year.